Local News

Ex-Duke Lacrosse Coach Speaks Out

Posted March 15, 2007 1:57 p.m. EDT
Updated March 16, 2007 12:47 a.m. EDT

— Duke University's former men's lacrosse coach spoke out Thursday for the first time about allegations and the criminal investigation against three former players.

Mike Pressler, who resigned in the wake of the scandal in which a stripper said she was gang-raped at an off-campus lacrosse team party, said he has always believed the players -- David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann -- were innocent.

"The evidence is coming out, daily, if not weekly. The world is seeing things that we knew early on in March," Pressler said in an interview on the Fox News show "America's Newsroom with Bill Hemmer and Megyn Kelly," where he was promoting an upcoming book on the matter.

"We remained silent for that period of time because we believe in those two words -- the truth," Pressler said.

He also said that he made it a point to punish players whenever they stepped out of line, but the party was not one of those circumstances.

Meanwhile, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper and two special prosecutors handling the case, were seen Thursday at 610 N. Buchanan Blvd., where the lacrosse party took place.

The Attorney General's Office took over the case in January after Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong recused himself from the highly publicized case. Lawmakers and the North Carolina State Bar have criticized how Nifong handled the investigation.

Nifong dismissed rape charges against the three suspects in December after the accuser told investigators she couldn't testify with 100 percent certainty that she was raped. Charges of first-degree sexual assault and kidnapping remain against them.

The day after Nifong asked for a special prosecutor in the case, Cooper said his office would examine the entire case before deciding how to proceed with the investigation.

Special prosecutors James Coman and Mary Winstead have spent the time since then looking at the evidence and interviewing witnesses. Sources tell WRAL that the accuser, a 28-year-old mother of three, met with them last month. Nifong didn't question her until nine months after she made the allegations.

A representative for the Attorney General's Office said Thursday that prosecutors are expected to conclude their review of the case within the next few weeks.

Pressler led the Duke's men's lacrosse program for 16 years before his resignation last April. He was later hired as head coach at Bryant University in Rhode Island.

He has refused to comment on the investigation in the past.

"There will be a time and place to talk about that," he said during a news conference on Feb. 23. "Today is not the time and the place to talk about that."

But, responding to a question about whether he believed the case should prompt changes in the North Carolina legal system, he replied, "I just hope that Rhode Island has a heckuva lot better system than North Carolina does."